It's a recurring theme, year after year. Wisconsin's basketball program brings in predominantly three-star recruits with some four-star talent sprinkled in here and there. Other conference powers may recruit better than the Badgers, but Bo Ryan develops his players into some of the Big Ten's best. The final results? During Bo Ryan's 11 seasons at Wisconsin, the Badgers have never finished worse than fourth.
Another part of that recurring theme? A fair share of experts overlooking and underestimating the Badgers before each season. That's not to say some have not learned to never count out a Bo Ryan coached squad, but members of the Big Ten media picked the Badgers to finish fifth in the conference this season. Per Jeff Potrykus, here's how Wisconsin fared in voting by a panel of 24 Big Ten basketball sports writers: UW received one second-place vote, one third-place vote, two fourth-place votes, 15 fifth-place votes, four sixth-place votes and one eighth-place vote.
Don't get me wrong, I could honestly care less where experts project the Badgers this season. It's almost comical though, the way members of the media almost annually expect the Badgers to falter.
It's apparent those who picked the Badgers to finish fifth or worse are expecting the loss of Jordan Taylor to leave a gaping void in this team. While you can't underestimate Taylor's production as a Badger, UW doesn't need one guy to replace him. Instead, it'll be a team effort — especially on the offensive side — and losing Taylor may even help open up the offense a bit more, so we don't see so many erratic shots with the shot clock winding down.
I will also say the Big Ten looks to be a dominant force again this season. Top tier teams like Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State are loaded. And with Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and Iowa trailing them, it'll be a tough task for the Badgers to finish near the top of the conference.
However, it again feels like experts are reluctant to predict a disappointing season from some of the powerhouse programs in the Big Ten. Rather than basing predictions off prior history and logic, it seems they prefer to stick with the status quo of forecasting the Big Ten season. It just begs the question, when will they learn?
The Spartans already faced Michigan, so with their biggest rival out of the way, it's time for them to battle their next biggest rival.
Devin Smith is at full strength again, and it's sure showing.
Here's your scouting report on the Michigan State Spartans.
BTN makes its Week 9 Big Ten predictions, including the Wisco-MSU showdown.